SOUTH COAST SRI LANKA



South Coast Sri Lanka
South Coast Sri Lanka

South Coast Sri Lanka is primarily a rural religion, made up of somnolent fishing villages and towns, where stilt fisherman can commonly be seen perched above the surf. The province was badly hit by the 2004 tsunami, although little evidence of the destruction remains. Rich in both history and culture, the south boasts attractions ranging from Colonial-era forts to atmospheric religious centers. Visitors can explore the wealth of national parks in the area or even undertake a whale- or turtle- watching expedition.

The south Coast was part of the ancient kingdom of Ruhunu, with Tissamaharama as its capital and principle settlement. The region flourished mainly from trade conducted through the ports in Galle and Matara. The Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka in the 16th century and constructed a fort in Galle, but they had to capitulate the area to the Dutch East India Company in 1640. When the British took over the country in 1802, Colombo became the main port and the south slipped into relative obscurity. Parts of the region still remain untouched by Sri Lanka’s tourist industry.

However, the province is gradually changing. The southern Expressway from Colombo to Galle has cut the journey to one hour from three. The highway continues on to Matara, and combined with the airport near Hambantota, it is expected to bring many more visitors to the South coast.

The sheltered bay of Unawatuna, offering safe swimming and snorkeling, is a major draw for tourists, whereas surfers keen to escape the crowds can be found at the smaller beachfront settlements of Midigama and Weligama. Tissamaharama acts as a base for trips to the superb national parks nearby, as well as to the venerated town of Kataragama. However, much of the region’s charm lies in simply travelling along the coast to experience local life in the villages. Fishermen and farmers continue to live and work as they have done for generations, even as large hotels spring up nearby.

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EXPLORING THE SOUTH

The South Coast encapsulates all of Sri Lanka’s characteristic features. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, with snorkeling and diving on offer at Unawatuna and Tangalla. Whale-watching tours are frequently organized out of Mirissa, and Rekawa beach offers some excellent turtle-watching. Wildlife-lovers can spend a rewarding day observing elephants at Uda Walawe National Park or tracking leopards at Yala National Park. Other important sights include the Colonial town of Galle, which boasts an atmospheric 18th- century fort, and Mulgirigala, a Buddhist site where the key to translating the Mahavamsa was discovered. However, Kataragama enjoys pride of place among the South Coast’s diverse attractions. One of the most sacred places on the island, it is where pilgrims descent in droves during the annual Kataragama Festival. more

Getting Around

The best way to get around the South Coast is by car or bus, since distances between towns are often large and trains only run as far east as Matara. Bus services are plentiful along the coast, but having a car and driver makes it easy to stop at sights en route. Most visitors base themselves in Galle or Unawatuna to explore the surrounding area, and then travel on to Mirissa or Tangalla. Tissamaharama makes a good base to visit Bundala and Yala National Parks. Three-wheelers are easily hired for journeys to outlying sights or between coastal settlements.




Exploring Galle


The most important town on the South Coast, Galle comprises the old Dutch quarter- enclosed within the Fort – and sprawling New Town located outside the Fort’s walls. The fort forms the.....


Kottawa, Arboretum & Hiyare Rainforests


Situated not far from Galle, and Kottawa Rain forest and Arboretum makes for an interesting day excursion. This isolated area, with a 1-km long walking.....


Unawatuna & around


The village of Unawatuna is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular resorts. There is a fine stretch of beach, although it has somewhat narrowed in places due to erosion and encroachment by.....


Martin Wickramasinghe Museum


The excellent Martin Wickramasinghe Museum has in the small town of Koggala. Although popular with the locals, the museum does not see.....




Midigama


Quieter than Hikkaduwa, the small village of Midigama is a surfer’s paradise. It offers some of the most consistent conditions in Sri Lanka for surfers of intermediate and advanced.....


Weligama


A sleepy fishing town, Weligama lies within the crescent-shaped Weligama Bay; visitors can check out the catch of the day at the roadside fish stalls. The town has also become .....


Mirissa


The languid village of Mirissa is worth a visit for its lovely beach and relaxing atmosphere, since it has mercifully escaped much of development that has overrun the other beach towns.....


Matara


A busy commercial town, Matara is major transport hub with a railway terminal and a bus station. Not many tourists stop here and those who do usually stay in the nearby suburb .....




Dondra


The tiny town was formerly an important religious center. Known as the Devi Nuwara (City of the gods), it was home to greatly revered temple dedicated to Vishnu, which was destroyed.....


Dickwella & around


Located between Matara and Tangalla, Dickwella is a good base for exploring sights in its surrounding area. Although the town does not offers much to see, the long sandy beach.....


Tangalle


Visitors come the town of Tangalla mainly because of the superb beaches that are located to the east and west. The town is also well-placed for day excursions to sights in the .....


Rekawa Beach


Rekawa Beach one of the most important sea turtle nesting sites in Sri Lanka. It can be reached from Tangalla via Tangalla Road. The beach is visited by five species of sea turtles.....




Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary


An area of coastal wetland with saltwater lagoons, mangrove swamps and scrub jungle, the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary is an excellent place for bird-watching. Among the birds that.....


Udawalawe National Park


One of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks, Udawalawe was created in 1972 to protect the catchment area around the enormous Udawalawe Reservoir. Spread over an expanse.....


Hambantota


Hanbantota suffered a great deal of damage in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. However, both the town and the district have been at the center of a concerted reconstruction effort.....


Bundala National Park


A quieter alternative to nearby Yala National Park Bundala offers ample bird-watching opportunities. The park extends along the coast for 20 km and is made up of scrub jungle and.....




Tissamaharama


Founded in the 3rd century BC, “Tissa” was the capital of the southern province of Ruhunu. Today, it serves mainly as a base for Yala and Bundala national parks, though it does have.....


Yala West (Ruhunu) National Park


Situated in the southeastern part of Sri Lanka, the expansive Yala National Park is divided into five blocks, of which only Blocks I and II are open to.....


Kataragama


Sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike, Kataragama is one of the most revered places of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka. The town, named after the guardian deity of Sri Lanka, is.....